Tag Archives: Amy Grant

The Wheel Thing: Riding In The Top 40 “Taxi”

Music drives us.

Music drives us.

2015 was a fairly inconsistent year for rapper Pitbull on CHR/Pop radio, with just one top ten single (“Time Of Our Lives”), a top 20 (“Fun”) and then two songs that failed to reach the top 50 altogether (“Drive You Crazy” and “FREE.K”.) However, it looks like the Miami performer may have finally found a single to put him back on track, one that’s rising thanks to unsolicited airplay in the Big Apple and his hometown.

It’s “El Taxi”, a song that features Sensato, Osmani Garcia and La Musa in its original version. In a new Spanglish version, Lil Jon is also credited. It heavily samples “Murder She Wrote”, a 1993 single by Chaka Demus & Pliers that didn’t chart well, but is still quite well-known. “El Taxi” has already been a big hit in Spain, which isn’t a surprise, and now, it may be close to ranking on the U.S. charts. Currently, the single is just below the top 50 on CHR/Pop radio, with detections at more than two dozen stations.

The promising reaction of this song got us thinking about other “Taxi” songs to be released to radio, and there are plenty of them. However, only one of the songs below actually appeared on the CHR/Pop chart, a remake of “Big Yellow Taxi” (#30) in 2003. So, I’ve decided to compile all of the Hot 100 titles to use the word, for “El Taxi” could find itself cruising up that chart as well soon. I think it’s time to step in and get to our destination…

“Tijuana Taxi”, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (#38, 1966)
The song from Alpert and his band isn’t the most memorable in his huge repertoire, but it was also a minor top 40 hit in Australia and the United Kingdom. They hit #1 in 1968 with “This Guy’s In Love With You”, while Alpert’s 1979 song “Rise” also hit the top.

“Big Yellow Taxi”, The Neighborhood (#29, 1970)
“Big Yellow Taxi (Live)”, Joni Mitchell (#24, 1975) (#67, 1970 in studio form – see below)
“Big Yellow Taxi”, Amy Grant (#67, 1995)
“Big Yellow Taxi”, Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton (#42, 2003)
The most famous “Taxi” of all managed to reach the Hot 100 in four (five, counting Mitchell’s original) different versions. That’s a whole lot of mileage. A 1995 remix by Mitchell from the soundtrack to TV’s Friends went top 40 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.

“Taxi”, Harry Chapin (#24, 1972)
This nearly seven-minute epic from the 1972 release Heads & Tales launched the recording career of this New York singer and his many great story songs. “Sequel”, Chapin’s follow-up to this, became his last top 40 single in the fall of 1980. He died a year later.

“Taxi Dancing”, Rick Springfield with Randy Crawford (#58, 1984)
The soundtrack from Hard To Hold, which Springfield also starred in, launched several singles onto the Hot 100. The biggest one was “Love Somebody”, a top five hit from the spring of ’84. This was the only single of the four from it to peak outside the top 40.

“Taxi”, J. Blackfoot (#90, 1984)
Born John Colbert, this Mississippi artist was a former member of The Soul Children. Their biggest crossover song, 1973’s “I’ll Be The Other Woman”, went to #36 on the Hot 100. Blackfoot’s biggest solo release was his first of eight to chart on the R&B survey.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (May 14)

I think she'll have a chart attack.

I think she’ll have a chart attack.

Mamma mia! Here we go again. Here are the albums rocking the record stores and intriguing the internet for the week of May 14:

  • Former Disney star turned pop princess Demi Lovato has a hot new album in stores today, simply titled Demi. First single, “Heart Attack”, was an instant hit at both radio and retail and is looking to become her biggest hit yet. Look for it to potentially debut at #1, knocking off the latest release from Lady Antebellum. (iTunes)
  • Country legend George Strait is back with his twenty-eighth album of original material, Love Is Everything. His label, MCA, has launched a “60 For 60” campaign for the set’s first single, “Give It All We Got Tonight”, which could mark the 60th number-one single for the performer across four trade charts: Billboard, Mediabase 24/7, and the-now defunct Gavin Report and Radio & Records. (iTunes)
  • They’re indie darlings and they recently performed on Saturday Night Live. New York-based band Vampire Weekend releases Modern Vampires Of The City, featuring one of the group’s biggest radio singles, “Diane Young”. (iTunes)
  • Another Country singer and current The Celebrity Apprentice finalist Trace Adkins is out with his latest, Love Will…, featuring current single “Watch The World End” with singer Colbie Caillat. (iTunes)
  • She made her way from the Christian music scene to the top of the pop charts and now she’s back to her home genre. Singer Amy Grant release How Mercy Looks From Here, her fifteenth studio album and second for Sparrow Records. Lead single “Don’t Try So Hard” features backing vocals from singer-songwriter James Taylor. (iTunes)
  • Rapper Eve is back with her first new album in eleven years, the long-delayed Lip Lock, which was once led off by the single “Tambourine” back in 2007. That song is no longer present on it. It’s her first album to be independently released. (iTunes)
  • He’s a God in the world of a cappella music, so don’t worry, be happy that he’s back with a new full-length album. Bobby McFerrin returns with Spirityouall. (iTunes)
  • Formerly of ABBA, Agnetha Fältskog releases her first solo album of original material in 25 years, A. (iTunes)
  • The disbanded R.E.M. is out with a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of their album Green, which featured the top ten hit, 1989’s “Stand”. (iTunes)
  • Other albums out this week include: Mindless Self Indulgence‘s How I Learned To Stop Giving A Sh*t and Love Mindless Self Indulgence (iTunes) and MS MR‘s Secondhand Rapture (iTunes).

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Little Bit Of Everything”, a first single from Country singer Keith Urban‘s forthcoming album. (iTunes)
  • “Someone Somewhere Tonight”, a new single from former American Idol contestant and current Dancing With The Stars contestant Kellie Pickler. (iTunes)

Next week, it’s all about the punks as Daft Punk release their highly-anticipated album, Random Access Memories. Will it ram itself into the top spot or can Darius Rucker roll his wagon wheel their first? A preview is coming in seven!

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From Christian To Crossover: Britt Nicole Goes For The “Gold”

After the "Gold" rush.

Just call it a “Gold” rush.

If you’re a regular Christian radio listener, then you probably know who Britt Nicole is. The 27-year-old singer has been at it for a few years now, but 2013 looks to be a big year for her as her single “Gold” crosses over from the world of Christian into the more Contemporary music scene, a rarity for many acts. In fact, Nicole is only the fourth solo female since the 1980’s to pull off the trick successfully. Christian music has often been very polarizing for the mainstream teen audience; programmers fear that anything too religious-based will turn away the urban crowd and/or who is just turned off by the background of the act. I’ve been guilty of it myself. However, some of those acts just manage to breakthrough with a non-offensive, harmless and uplifting tune or two. If you’re curious about the history of the process, well, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Amy Grant had been releasing albums since 1977, but in 1985, A&M Records took over partial promotion of her album, Unguarded, and single “Find A Way” hit the mainstream top 30. By 1986, she was on a top-selling duet with Peter Cetera, “The Next Time I Fall”. For years, Grant built up a following at adult contemporary radio, but nothing hit big nationally. Despite one other top-40 hit by the band Stryper in 1987, that was all for Christian crossovers, until Grant struck again with her 1991 release, the pop-oriented Heart In Motion. Lead single “Baby Baby” made a huge splash and spent three weeks at #1 on the radio and two on the Hot 100. Grant became the first Christian music artist to hit the top spot, and would make the top ten with follow-up singles like “Every Heartbeat”. In fact, at CHR radio, five consecutive singles made the top ten, a feat yet to be matched by any Christian artist. 1994’s House Of Love and 1997’s Behind The Eyes also produced big AC hits and more minor CHR entries, but her success eventually waned at both formats.

Amy Grant‘s sudden and spectacular mainstream story encouraged many a Christian singer to try their luck at popular radio to positive results. First was Michael W. Smith, who had been making the Christian charts since 1983. His first wide release from Go West Young Man, “Place In This World”, was co-written by Grant. It went top ten in the summer of 1991. In 1992, Kathy Troccoli scored her only mainstream hit, “Everything Changes”, a top 5 at CHR radio and top 20 on the Hot 100. Songs by DC Talk and Jars Of Clay also placed in the top 20 at the format in 1996. By the late 1990’s, most of these acts were back to just releasing to Christian radio as boy bands and bubblegum music took over mainstream radio.

With teen singers on the rise, Virgin Records took a chance on then 17-year-old Stacie Orrico, handling the pop promotion for her second, self-titled effort. Two big singles hit, “Stuck” and “(There’s Gotta Be) More To Life”, which went top ten at mainstream radio. Further reigniting a Christian music movement was MercyMe and their single, “I Can Only Imagine”. Originally issued in 2001, it went to #1 on the Christian AC chart. The song was remixed and rereleased to mainstream radio in reaction to the Columbia disaster, where a seven-person crew on the shuttle were killed as it disintegrated back to Earth on February 1, 2003. The song’s impact began slowly, then built an audience through airplay in primarily southern markets. Hitting the CHR top 50 in late May, it peaked in mid-August at #29 and spent a huge 20 weeks on the chart. The band would have several other AC hits, where “Imagine” made the top 5, but nothing made it onto the CHR airwaves.

After the success of those two acts, other Christian artists began to push their releases to mainstream radio to mixed results. Bands like FlyleafRelient K and Switchfoot managed to gel with the sound of the format, the latter act scoring two top ten hits in 2004. Plumb broke the AC format with 2007’s top ten single, “In My Arms”. Acts like Rush Of FoolsSteven Curtis Chapman and former DC Talk member tobyMac, however, saw very limited AC and Hot AC airplay with no big singles. Just as a decade before, the run of crossover singles managed to last a good few years before the genre was overshadowed by dance and electro-pop music and left the mainstream genre.

Flash forward to 2013 and Britt Nicole has made it into the CHR top 40 with “Gold”, the first Christian act to break at this specific radio format since 2008. Nicole released her first album, Say It, in 2007, followed by The Lost Get Found in 2009. Both albums launched hit singles, notably her second effort, which saw both the title track and a follow-up single, “Walk On The Water”, hit #1 on the Christian CHR chart. Last year, she released Gold, which included another high charting hit, “All This Time”. It was then announced that Capitol Records would be taking over the crossover promotion of the album and the rerelease of it, coming on February 26. The title track, remixed very slightly, was made available for airplay in December. It’s mainly been added to stations in smaller radio markets, thus, it has a low audience, but it’s still accumulated several hundred new spins during the past few weeks. The song itself isn’t even remotely religious; just a feel good anthem about feeling beautiful and confident being your unique self (“Whatever you’ve been told/you’re worth more than gold”) up against a bouncy guitar line and some drums. The video reflects the same message as five teased children (a “vampire girl”, a homosexual guy, an anorexic teen, a rebel skater chick and a short basketball player) are transported into a “dream world” where everyone is accepted regardless of what they look like and have a big house party. Plus, who doesn’t love a young girl carrying around a bunch of balloons? It won’t ruffle any feathers; rather, I would hope it inspires a lot of radio listeners that are bullied or pressured by other to conform to a certain way. It’s pretty relatable. At the same time, Nicole faces an uphill battle. Will people think of her differently coming from a Christian background or will she just be accepted with her catchy song of hers? It’s only #226 on iTunes, though that’s much higher than other songs getting airplay on that format. Time will tell, I suppose, but she’s off to a good start, and the song is, at least in my opinion, worthy of being the big hit that everyone jams along to.

So, if Britt Nicole makes the top twenty or so at CHR radio, could this be the start of a new era of Christian crossovers? Will acts like Colton Dixon, Hawk Nelson or Meredith Andrews be next to take the prize? How long could Nicole keep pumping out singles to the format if she eventually sees some big numbers? Stay tuned. This could be a holy handover.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News, Playlists, Retro, Single Reviews